Why we have ads

We run ads on the site, this article talks about how we try and make them not terrible and why we monetise in the first place

If you browse the net with an ad-blocker, you might not see it, but we run ads on this site, in this article I want to talk about why we run ads, why we run the ads we do, and why we will almost certainly continue to do so.

First. Let’s talk about why ads are terrible, and they are mostly terrible.

Ads are terrible and predatory

Ads on the internet are understandably hated, some websites are unusable because of them and there are some shockingly bad practices being used around data harvesting.

They are also slow, injecting gross amounts of JavaScript and moving images, don’t get me started on the ones with sound!

Most of us block ads not because we dislike the website we are visiting, but because the website is too hard to visit because of the ads.

Ads are no fun. So why do we run them on tosbourn.com?


We spend a lot of time making content for this site, we have hundreds of blog posts which we regularly maintain.

I can’t really put a number on it (and I will feel way too old if I try), but in the 15 years the site has been online, we have spent thousands of hours working on the site and writing articles for the site.

Time we spend working on this site is time we could be spending on other parts of our business, client work, sales, training, you get the idea. We’ve been in business 8 years this year, running your own business is hard, very hard, and time is always at a premium.

Knowing there is even a little bit of a financial upside to the time we spend on the site helps to justify it slightly. To be clear, it is only a little bit of financial upside, we couldn’t begin to live off of the proceeds of this website. On a good month we could buy a couple of coffees.

Aside from the time spent, we also provide value, a lot of it. Many of our posts are specific answers to very niche questions. The amount of people I’ve worked with who have thanked me for a post they found searching for their problem is, frankly, unbelievable.

We get hundreds of visits a day, nearly 150,000 a year, from people looking for specific answers and getting them. It feels appropriate that we should get some acknowledgement for this work.

The people searching for an answer are busy, even if we had one of those “send me a coffee” links, who is actually going to do that when in the middle of solving a technical problem? Most of our writing isn’t the sort you slowly read for pleasure with a cup of something warm.

We’d love to be able to justify spending more time writing articles to help developers. We get such a kick out of knowing we’ve got someone out of a pickle. In order to do that, however, we need some form of financial justification.

The ads we run

You might be thinking, right, yeah, making money is fine, but not at the cost of all the downsides you mentioned.

I’d normally agree, but we’ve been very picky about who we work with to mitigate a lot of the downsides.


The first ad you’ll see is from EthicalAds, then right at the bottom of the post you’ll see another add for a service I use called TextExpander.

EthicalAds don’t have any sort of cookie tracking or to any data collection or mining. The only things they know are if an ad has loaded, the IP address of the device loading the ad, and if it’s been clicked.

We’ve placed this ad along the right hand side of the text, it doesn’t interrupt any flow of reading. We don’t do any sort of content blocking, with pop ups of in-text ads. We also don’t check for ad blockers and beg you to allow us.


The second ad is a banner right at the bottom of an article.

TextExpander is a product I’ve used for years and recommend to anyone who will listen. It has saved my a serious amount of typing over the years, and at the risk of this post turning into an ad, you should read our review!

The link is affiliated so if you purchase via it, we get a small cut.

The banner for TextExpander is out of the way and is very performant.

Alternatives to ads

We could of course, decide to not make any money from the site. Unfortunately we don’t have enough income from other sources to make that an option.

There are more affiliate programs we could sign up to, for products we use and care about. That is fine for individual posts, but unless we wanted to make the entire point of the site reviews or sales, this won’t work.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t think a KoFi / Patreon style tip jar would world. Most of our value is in answering a specific question to get someone back to work; they ain’t gonna tip then and there, and we don’t really have a community on the site for people to keep coming back.

We could try and get more consulting work from the site, use the spaces we’re currently promoting other things to promote ourselves.

Because we help developers with our posts, but get hired by project managers, I don’t think that is going to be super viable.

In closing

  • Most ads are terrible, but you can mitigate this by working with good companies
  • Try and match up your users with how you monetise your website
  • Don’t get greedy, but also know your worth

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